Town Office and Public Library. (LDHS 93.1.96. Archival Image Provided by Lacombe & District Historical Society. Questions or comments lacombemuseum.com)

Lacombe area IODE chapter celebrating 100 years of community service

For 100 years the Lord Lascelles Chapter of the IODE (International Order of the Daughters of The Empire) has been serving the county of Lacombe.

IODE Canada is a national women’s charitable organization founded in 1900 by Margaret Polson Murray as a way to support Canadians departing to fight with the empire forces in South Africa.

The first chapter was formed in Fredericton, New Brunswick on January 15, 1900, and the Provincial Chapter of Alberta was incorporated in 1920. Today there are 13 primary chapters, one municipal chapter and 232 members.

The Lacombe chapter currently has 15 active members and is hoping to expand.

Wendy Holman, a member of the local IODE chapter said that most members are retired but that the group is open to women of all ages and backgrounds.

“They’re friendly and everyone is hardworking I tell you. There are no slackers, they’re always eager. We’re small but we’re mighty.”

One of the many notable things that the chapter has been responsible for is Lacombe’s first public library. It was founded in 1930 by the Lord Lascelles Chapter and run by the group. The library opened its doors in December 1931. It was the old public school building and was located on the site of the present memorial centre. The town office occupied the first level and the library was on the second. It remained in the original location until May of 1953 when it was relocated to the Lacombe Memorial Recreation Centre. On November 23, 1953 the M.R.C. was destroyed by fire and the library lost all its books and records. In 1955, the library was moved into the west wing of the rebuilt memorial centre and the Lacombe Regional Library Board took over the operation.

These days the group is still part of the library system. Each year at the national level of the IODE, a handful of books written by Canadian authors are chosen and placed on a list. The clubs buy up to ten books from that list and donate copies to the local school libraries and public libraries.

The IODE chapters host various fundraisers throughout the year. This year the Lacombe chapter returned to the spring trade show to sell cheesecakes and pies. Funds raised through similar events held throughout the year go towards community music awards, education awards, citizenship programs, and special education projects in the county of Lacombe. Each year, two Coronation Bursaries of $1,000 are also awarded that commemorate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Since 1920 Alberta chapters initiated many diverse and exciting projects within their communities.

According to the IODE Alberta website, over the past 30 years, Alberta chapters have raised and funded well over $450,000 for education, citizenship and services projects.

For those interested in becoming a member more information can be found at iode.ca.